How brands position and compete during Covid2019

A lot of challenges await them as they look to maintain their presence

The world has come to a literal standstill in the wake of the deadly Covid-2019 pandemic. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that all of us are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. Even the marketing and communications industry is seeing a downward trajectory, with most companies struggling to stay afloat and keep themselves relevant in times like these. 

A lot of challenges await brands as they look to maintain their presence among consumers during the lockdown. Market sentiments have hit the purchasing capacity of consumers, both in terms of behavioural and economic approach. It won't be too early to say that humans have adopted 'social distancing' as their way of life, and have begun to understand the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’.

Amidst all of this, how can a brand gain attention of existing and potential consumers? How does it ensure that its voice is heard? The answer lies in humour, banters with other brands, and showing empathy; at least these options have found some amount of success with a lot of brands that have been trying out these cool new initiatives. 

And this is also backed by data. According to a Barometer India study by Kantar conducted from 19-22 March, 28 per cent of their respondents are still keen to observe their brands’ creativity in sharing trusted information with the audience. Also, the study has suggested that 79 per cent of the consumers want to experience how helpful brands can be in a new world post Covid-2019, in their everyday lives. This clearly shows that consumers are going to be way more alert and intuitive before building their loyalty towards any particular brand.

The aviation industry has generally been a big trendsetter in this aspect. A few days ago, Indigo poked some harmless fun at Vistara with a quirky tweet stating 'not flying higher these days we heard?' with the hashtag #StayingParkedStayingSafe. Other Indian airlines were quick to join the conversation with their own witty comebacks, with Delhi Airport finally rounding up the conversation with a hopeful-for-the-future kind of tweet. With no certainty of any of these brands being back to business soon, they not only conveyed the importance of staying home, but also kept themselves relevant in the audience’s mind through a unique take on the current situation. 

A similar kind of attempt was made by the Mumbai Police to educate netizens to stay home by quoting some of Alia Bhatt’s hit movies.

This allowed netizens to participate in conversations, and also gave a big boost to the Mumbai Police’s initiative of taking creative routes to impart education about staying home. 

The radio industry isn’t staying far behind either. Radio has emerged as one of the most credible sources of information during lockdown with credibility score of 6.27. According to AZ Research PPL, 82 per cent of the masses have been relying on radio for gaining access to authentic pieces of information. Radio brands have kept aside their rivalry and joined hands to keep the brand relevant in their own creative ways.

It all started when Fever FM tagged Radio Mirchi and subtly poked them, asking if they are still happy as Radio Mirchi, playing on the tagline - "Mirchi Sunne wale always khush." Ishq FM and Radio Nasha soon joined this online conversation.

It is intriguing how brand communications are adapting to evolving consumer sentiment in a short span of time. It’s like the pandemic imparted a whole new perspective to their approach. Whether it is to poke fun, or to show empathy, brands are now connecting more with competitors, without caring too much about fighting for audience mind space. 

Even influencers have taken up the mantle to educate while staying relevant to their audience on social media. With Covid-2019 bringing all sporting events to a halt, sports personalities like Usain Bolt have also engaged in some fun, albeit educative conversations. He used the iconic picture from his 100m race win at 2008 Olympics to advocate social distancing, while also subtly poking fun at his competitors by showcasing how he had outpaced all of them.

Once all of this is over, it will be interesting to see how brands approach their communication strategies. Will they continue to remain as empathetic to competition, and creative in their approach to communication? Will we see an innovative and collaborative approach to keep their ‘reborn’ consumers engaged? Only time will give us answers to all these questions.

(The author is a communication specialist. The views expressed are personal and may not subscribe to them)

Follow Tellychakkar for the consumer facing news & entertainment

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